South Region bracket breakdown

South+Region+bracket+breakdown

James Krause

The South Region of the NCAA Men’s Basketball Championship bracket is full of teams that may pull off some upsets, but ultimately it’ll be the usual suspects when it’s time to send a team to Minnesota. 

No. 1 Virginia over No. 16 Gardner-Webb

Everyone remembers Virginia’s first round loss last year to UMBC, the first number one-seed loss in the opening round. Don’t overthink this pick however, the Cavaliers should be on their A-game this time around, and will easily make their way out of the opening weekend.

No. 9 Oklahoma beating No. 8 Ole Miss

Oklahoma first-year guard Jamal Bieniemy is averaging 1.4 steals per game and should give the Sooners extra scoring opportunities against the Rebels. After just edging into the tournament last year, Oklahoma made sure there was no debate about their entry this year.

No. 12 Oregon upsets No. 5 Wisconsin

The Oregon Ducks rode a top-20 scoring defense to a Pac-12 tournament championship win to secure a spot in the tournament, winning eight straight games. The Ducks can harass teams into committing turnovers and taking bad shots, which may put them in the Sweet 16.

No. 13 UC Irvine knocks off No. 4 Kansas State

If momentum is a major plus heading into the tournament, the Anteaters of UCI might be the best bet for an upset. The Anteaters are on a 16-game winning streak and are the best team in the nation in defending two-point shots, which may spell trouble for the Kansas State Wildcats.

No. 6 Villanova over No. 11 Saint Mary’s 

Never count out the Villanova Wildcats and Head Coach Jay Wright. After starting the season with losses to teams like Michigan and Kansas, the defending champions turned it around and won the Big East title to claim their spot in the tournament.

No. 3 Purdue tops No. 14 Old Dominion

Junior guard Carsen Edwards has been the best scorer in the Big Ten all season and has helped push Purdue to a three-seed. Edwards, who averages 23 points per game, can single-handedly carry this team past Old Dominion. The question is how far can he carry the Boilermakers by himself.

No. 7 Cincinnati beats No. 10 Iowa

The resume doesn’t lie for Cincinnati, and wins over Houston and Central Florida down the stretch shows the Bearcats can compete with some of the nation’s best with their slowed pace. The Hawkeyes, meanwhile, enter the tournament on a skid, losing five of their last six regular season games.

No. 2 Tennessee over No. 15 Colgate

Tennessee has been the best team in the country at various points this season, and it’s in part thanks to leadership from three starting upperclassmen. The experience level, along with great free-throw shooting, will give the Volunteers the edge against the best teams in the country.

Villanova will try to repeat with South Region title

Villanova found success last season in the tournament by shooting the three-pointer, and they did the same this season. The Wildcats shot from beyond the arch 1,023 times this season, the fourth most shots in the country. The Wildcats also come into the tournament having been on top before, winning two of the last three national championships. 

Tennessee is experienced and Virginia is excellent on both ends, but Wright always has his teams playing their best when it matters most: in March.